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Right Side/Left Side

 

In 96% of the population, the side of the brain that contains the area important for language is the left side. People have dominant parts of their bodies for other jobs too. For example, about 90% of the population is right-handed. In other words, the right hand is dominant...right-handed people prefer to use their right hand for most tasks. What about the foot, eye and ear? Which foot is dominant? Which eye? Which ear?

The following set of experiments will help you find out if people have a dominant hand, foot, eye and ear. Print out one copy of this table for each person you will test. You will need to collect several items to test your subject. Also, do not tell your subjects what you trying to test. You can add more tests in each category (hand, foot, eye, ear) if you want.

 

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Right Hand/Left Hand

First, let's check people for handedness...which hand do they prefer to use in the following tests? Mark your data sheet depending on whether they use their right or left hand.
  1. Observe your subject to see if he or she writes with the right or left hand. Just ask your subject to write his or her name.

     

  2. Which hand does your subject hold a pair of scissors when cutting a piece of paper? Ask your subject to cut a circle out of a piece of paper.

     

  3. Which hand does your subject use to throw a ball. Give a ball to your subject and ask him or her to throw it to you.

    Extra Tests (optional)

     

  4. Observe your subject to see if he or she eats with the right or left hand. You should only count the hand that is used to bring the food to your subjects mouth...which hand holds the fork or spoon?

     

  5. Observe which hand your subject uses to pick up a cup of water to drink.
Materials needed:

 

  • Pen or pencil and paper
  • Paper and scissors
  • Ball
  • Cup with water (optional)
  • Fork or spoon and food (optional)

If you want to determine the STRENGTH of handedness, there are two different questionnaires you can use.

 

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Right Foot/Left Foot

Now, let's check people for footedness...which foot do they prefer to use in the following tests? Mark your data sheet depending on whether they use the right or left foot.
  1. Does your subject kick a ball with his or her right or left foot?

     

  2. Does your subject step up a stair leading with his or her right of left foot? Have your subject stand with both feet flat on the ground in front of a step. Ask your subject to step up the first stair. See which foot is lifted up. (Note: if you do not have any stairs, you can draw a line on the floor or put a piece of string on the ground. Ask you subject to step over the line or string. See which foot goes over the line.)

     

  3. Which foot does your subject use to step on things? Put a small object, such as a coin, on the floor. Ask your subject to step on the coin. Which foot does your subject use to step on the coin?

Materials needed:

 

  • Ball
  • Stairs
  • Coin

 

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Right Eye/Left Eye

Now, let's check people for eyedness...which eye do they prefer to use in the following tests? Mark your data sheet depending on whether they use the right or left eye.
  1. Which eye is used by your subject to look through a tube? Give your subject an empty paper towel tube (or just roll up a piece of paper). Which eye does your subject put up to the tube?

     

  2. Which eye does your subject "sight" with? Ask your subject to look at a distant object across the room (such as a clock on the wall). Tell your subject to quickly line up one finger with the distant object so that this finger is blocking the object. Now ask your subject to close one eye, then the other. When your subject closes one eye, the object will remain blocked. However, with the other eye, your subject's finger will "jump" out of the way. Mark your data sheet with the eye that still blocked the object. For example, if the object remained blocked when the right eye was used, mark right eye.

     

  3. Another sight test. Cut a small circle out of the middle of a piece of notebook paper. The circle should be the size of a small coin. Give the paper with the hole to your subject. Ask your subject to use both eyes and to look through the hole in the paper at a distant object (like a clock on the wall). Ask your subject to bring the paper closer and closer to his or her face while still looking at the distant object. Which eye does the hole in the paper finally reach? The right or left eye?

    Materials needed:

     

    • Paper or cardboard tube
    • Paper with small hole

 

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Right Ear/Left Ear

Now, let's check people for earedness...which ear do they prefer to use in the following tests? Mark your data sheet depending on whether they use the right or left ear.
  1. Which ear do your subjects use to listen to a whisper? Tell your subjects that you are going to whisper something very quietly and that you want them to "cup one ear" to make the sound louder. Speak quietly and see which ear do they decide to use.

     

  2. Which ear do your subjects use to listen to a sound from a box. Get a small box and ask your subjects to identify what is inside the box by putting an ear up to the box. Which ear do they use?

     

  3. Which ear do your subjects use to listen through a wall. Ask your subjects to try to listen through a wall. Which ear do they use?

Materials needed:

 

  • Small box

 

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Collect and Analyze Your Results

For each subject, determine if all of the responses were on the right side, left side or mixed. For example, did your subject use his or her right hand for all the handedness tests? If there are more right sided responses than left sided responses, you can call that person right handed. Do the same for the foot, ear and eye. Is your subject right or left handed? Right or left footed? Right or left eyed? Right or left eared?

Summarize the data from all of your subjects. How many people in your test were right handed, how many were left handed?

How many people in your test were right footed, how many were left footed?

How many people in your test were right eyed, how many were left eyed?

How many people in your test were right eared, how many were left eared?

Does whether your subject was a boy or girl make a difference? How many boys were right handed? How many girls?

Compare your data to this table with these numbers from another experiment (reference below). Were your numbers different?

% of Men and Women who Use the RIGHT SIDE
Men Women
Hand 86 90
Foot 77 86
Ear 55 65
Eye 73 69
Table Reference: Stanley Coren, The Left-Hander Syndrome: The Causes and Consequences of Left-Handedness, Free Press, New York, 1992, p. 32

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Right - Left Confusion?

Do you confuse your right and your left?

Test your right/left identification skill here!

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Right - Left Switcharoo

Here is an activity you can try to see differences in the abilities of your right and left hands. Set aside a period of time (30 minutes, 1 hour or longer) and use your non-dominant hand to do things your dominant hand usually does. For example, if you write with your right hand, try writing with your left hand. If you eat with your right hand, try to hold the fork in your left hand or try to eat soup with the spoon in your left hand. Can you brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand? Try it!

Caution: BE CAREFUL and USE YOUR BEST JUDGEMENT in the activities you try. Do not try anything dangerous!

 

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BACK TO: The Senses Experiments and Activities

BACK TO: Exploring the Nervous System Table of Contents

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